Editor’s Note: Health Gives Hope is a nonprofit organization that serves the village and community around Bora, Ethiopia. VoiceBox Media’s Holly Wise caught up with Dan Clark to talk about the recent work in Bora and ways you can get involved.
HLW: I’m here with Dan Clark, the strategic director for Health Gives Hope. Dan is getting ready to leave Wednesday, Nov. 12 to go to Bora, Ethiopia and he’s going to talk to us about that trip.
HLW: What are some of the team’s goals for this trip?
DC: We’re excited that we’re bringing two new things to what the team is going to do. We’re going to serve again in the Chencha prison like we have often done. That’s the town where the road ends and we hike to Bora from there. We’ve built a great relationship with the community in Chencha and offer medical care for a day or two in the prison.
And with the clinic in Bora, there are two other things we’re going to be doing that haven’t been done on past trips. Those are – we have bought a bunch of furniture in Addis Ababa for the clinic and the nurses’ house. So all that is going to be transported down with us and we’ll be setting that up and organizing it. That also includes about 450 pounds of medical supplies that we’re carrying with us.
HLW: And all of that will have to be hauled up the 6-mile hike from Chencha to Bora?
DC: Yes. Furniture and 450 pounds of supplies. It’s a big job but it will help the clinic be that much more efficient and effective.
All the supplies have been donated locally here in Central Ohio.
HLW: How many people are going on this trip?
DC: There are 13.
HLW: You guys have recently fundraised for the water testing equipment to take to Bora. Is that for an upcoming project?
DC: Yes. In addition to the furniture and supplies, that’s the other piece that’s new and a different element on this trip. We’ve raised money to buy water-testing kits from a company that will allow us to test for E-coli and other things right there on location.
We’ve also raised money for a mapping application that uses GPS so we’re going to be sending out five different teams of Americans on the first day going to as many water sources whether they are natural or hand dug in the area and when we map those and test those, we’ll be able to know if and where there is safe water already in the area. And that will help us make a determination on where a mechanically dug well should go.
HLW: Has there been a concern about the safety of the water in Bora?
DC: Absolutely. Globally half the people in hospital beds are in hospital beds from water borne illness. It’s no different in Bora. Amber (Kaufman) has estimated that 40 percent of the people they see have a water-related illness so there’s parasites in the water for sure and bacteria. Some of the natural hand dug water sources dry up in the dry season.
HLW: Is a mechanically dug well something that Health Gives Hope wants to bring to Bora?
DC: Yes. We’ve already raised the money for it. We’re ready to go. The next step will be the water drilling company from Addis will go to Bora. We’re still waiting to see if that will happen this trip, or if there will be a separate trip with Israel. And they’ll test a couple locations.
HLW: Could you talk to us briefly about the process of getting to Bora? And the significance of hauling 450 pounds of medical supplies and what that entails?
DC: The 13 team members from Chicago, Colorado, Florida and Columbus will all meet in the Dulles airport and then we take a direct flight on Ethiopian Air from Dulles to Addis Ababa – about 14 hours. It’s that long fight- fly over Europe, fly over the Sahara Desert, land in Addis at about 7 a.m. local time, and we immediately get in the van, or two vans. We load our luggage on top, we buy a bunch of bottled water on our way out of town and we begin driving south through the Lower Rift Valley down into the mountains of southern Ethiopia.
I’ve taken a couple dozen of these trips and as a leader on these trips, people ask me how long the trip is and I usually tell them something like between 2 and 16 hours because you really just don’t know what’s going to happen – flat tires, weathered roads. It will probably take us maybe 12 hours to drive to Arba Minch where we’ll stay the first night. And when it comes time to get to Bora, we’ll drive about an hour and a half to Chencha, which is basically where the road ends. Beyond that it’s on foot for about 2 and 3 hours and a climb from about 8,000 feet to 10,000 feet above sea level. And that’s when we arrive in Bora. It’s quite a trip.
HLW: If people wanted to get involved with what you guys are in doing in Ethiopia, how can people get in touch with you and Health Gives Hope?
DC: There’s a couple ways. If people go to our website: healthgiveshope.org. – on the top of the right there are two tabs: Volunteer and Take Action. The volunteer tab talks about the two kinds of trips we have – the next trip is happening April 8 – 18, 2015. If people are doctors, RNs, Pas, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, we definitely need people with those skillsets and of course we need plenty of nonmedical people to fill in the gaps on the team. That’s one way to get involved.
Another thing: Take Action is where people can see two of the ways we have to give. We found it takes $840 for the clinic to operate one week so if one person or one company or one church were to give $70 per month, they’ve funded the clinic for a week.
I would say first off go healthgiveshope.org, scroll down to the bottom and sign up for the e-newsletter. We send out a newsletter 4-6 times a year and they have a ton of information and it’s a way to keep people connected with what we’re doing.
Watch the team at work in Bora, Ethiopia: